Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Day 12: In Which We Disrupt Education

We boarded the bus for our next destination, and drove through the streets of Qena again. I was able to photograph a great example of a true Egyptian phenomenon:
the ubiquitous Unfinished Upper Story. Again and again we saw this, on nice buildings and rat-traps that looked like they'd collapse if a straw fell on them. Apparently "unfinished buildings" in Egypt don't pay property tax, so nobody really finishes one if they can help it!

Next stop: the local elementary school, where we were greeted like we were Beatles: we were mobbed by adorable, uniformed, well-scrubbed, shrieking schoolchildren eager to get their picture taken.
(We were the second pack of Americans to hit the school that day, since the folks who didn't do Dendera went taken to the school earlier; therefore the kids were already a little overstimulated before we even got there.) They showed us their classrooms
their library
and the computer lab!
They have 8 PCs running Windows XP in there and they're really proud and delighted about it.

We were taken around the whole building, and saw kids in all sizes from tiny:
to middle-sized:
This serious young man already knows how to say, "What's your name?" in English. I think it's the first phrase they learn.

We were cheered and mobbed all the way back to the bus - we must have shaken 500 hands by the time we were waved on our way:
Once back on board, we headed south again, back to Luxor where we will dock tonight and tomorrow. I noticed an odd thing while lounging around on deck:
While we were in Qena they had mounted a MACHINE GUN on the fantail of the boat! It seems, at least according to the Lonely Planet guide book, that this part of Egypt had seen some extra unrest a few years ago, so I guess we were taking no chances. They took the machine gun off again once we were back in Luxor.

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